The Tampa Bay Buccaneers news’ this past offseason was something else, acquiring Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski from the New England Patriots dynasty. Almost overnight, they went from an oft-forgotten team to a serious playoff contender, with all eyes on them to make a serious Super Bowl push.
As they continue to make waves in the NFL, this column will be updated every week to reflect Tampa Bay Buccaneers news throughout the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Headed to the 2020 Super Bowl
After an upset victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially headed to the Super Bowl, matched up against the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady will make his 10th Super Bowl appearance, and the Buccaneers are the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. While home-field advantage is a bit convoluted this year thanks to COVID-19 protocols, Arians said playing the championship game at Raymond James Stadium gives his team the advantage leading up to the Super Bowl.
“I think the big advantage is we stay in our own beds, sleep here and just do our normal routine,” Arians said. “Nothing is out of the ordinary until we hit the media sessions next week. Just to be able to stay in your routine, sleep in your bed and all that stuff – I think it’s a huge advantage.”
The Bucs are chasing their second championship, their first since the 2002-2003 season, when they beat out the Oakland Raiders for the title. The game against the Chiefs will be a rematch of this season’s Week 12 game, which saw the Chiefs emerge with the W. Tampa Bay went on to win seven straight games heading into Super Bowl LV.
2020 Playoffs divisional round: Tampa Bay Buccaneers news
After pulling out a win over the Taylor Heinecke-led Washington Football Club, Tampa Bay is slated to take on the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the playoffs. After losing to the Saints twice in key regular season matchups, the biggest question heading into the Sunday night faceoff is an obvious one. Will Drew Brees be able to beat Tom Brady three times in one season?
It’s also a historic quarterback matchup because 43-year old Brady and 42-year old Brees are two of the oldest quarterbacks to match up, with Brady being the oldest ever to throw a touchdown pass in the playoffs. They also are in a matchup for most passing touchdowns of all time, though Brady has a more substantial lead as a result of Brees’ rib injury this year. There’s also, of course, a possibility that either quarterback could retire when the season ends.
Heading into the game, Tampa Bay (and Donovan Smith in particular) need to continue their strong performance on the offensive line, defending Brady and allowing him to do what he does best. Conversely, they’ll need to find a way to stop Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara from spending a lot of time in the end zone. But, with Brady playing his best football, this matchup could be more competitive than their last two meetings.
2020 Playoffs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers news
After a sizeable victory over the Atlanta Falcons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially secured the fifth seed and are slated to take on Washington Football Club in the first round of the playoffs. Washington is coming out of the NFC East with a less than .500 record, after their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (despite some questionably play calling from Doug Pedersen and Philly) slotted them into the final playoff position in the NFC.
Not surprisingly, Tampa Bay is heavily favored in the matchup against Washington Football Club. While they really improved in the second half of the season, they ultimately finished the season with a 7-9 record, the only team in the postseason with a less than winning record. The Buccs matchup against Washington Football Club is an offense vs. defense matchup, with the dynamic Tampa Bay offense taking on a Washington defense that rarely allows opponents to score over 20 points. Tampa Bay, though, finished third in the league in scoring, putting up a total of 492 points. In the four-game winning streak that ended the season, they averaged 37 points per game.
Tampa is second in sacks-allowed-per-pass percentage, sitting at 3.51% behind only the Steelers. Washington is fourth in the league in sacks percentage on defense, though, with 8.8%. Ultimately, though, Tom Brady’s 102.0 passer rating is what people are betting on headed into the matchup.
In personnel news, Mike Evans suffered a knee injury in the game against the Falcons, though, but Tampa Bay got some good news. An MRI showed no structural damage, prompting the Buccaneers to list him as day-to-day. Coach Bruce Arians explained that Evans suffered a hyper-extension, and that his knee was swollen but he was still able to train. He could still play on Saturday.
Evans played part of the season battling an ankle injury, refusing to sit games out because of the injury to the team’s other starting WR, Chris Godwin. It seems likely that he would play through at least some discomfort again.
Another bright spot: Ronald Jones returned in the game against the Atlanta Falcons, and proved he didn’t miss a beat and is ready to complete in the playoffs.
Arians also told reporters cornerback Carlton Davis (who has missed two games with a groin injury) is expected to be “up and running” for the Washington faceoff. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett will also come back from the reserve/COVID-19 for the game.
Unfortunately, though, Arians doesn’t expect inside linebacker Devin White and defensive lineman Steve McLendon to start in Saturday’s contest.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Headed to the postseason
For the first time since 2007, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have clinched a playoff birth, sitting in the fifth seed with a 10-5 record at the end of Week 16. Their 47-7 thrashing of the Detroit Lions helped Tom Brady and Mike Evans set franchise records, leading them into guaranteed games in January. The Buccaneers were the only NFC team to secure a playoff spot in Week 16, joining the division-leading Packers, Saints and Seahawks, who have already clinched spots.
They are now fighting for the fifth seed, and were offered help by the Seattle Seahawks in the form of a Los Angeles Rams loss. A fifth seed gives them a matchup against the NFC East division leader, who is guaranteed a sub-500 record.
The team’s final regular season matchup is against the Atlanta Falcons, and head coach Bruce Arians made it clear that the Buccaneers will come out fighting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Week 15 news
To many Buccaneers fans, the most important piece of data following the Week 15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons is this: the team can officially clinch a playoff berth with a Week 16 victory over the Detroit Lions. They sit second in the NFC South, with a one-game deficit behind the New Orleans Saints, who have already clinched a playoff berth. Even without Ronald Jones and Donovan Smith, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staged the biggest comeback in franchise history. Antonio Brown finally delivered, scoring his first touchdown as a Buccaneer, and Devin White delivered three sacks to complete an outstanding second half. And, of course, Tom Brady threw for 320 passing yards in the second half, the most a quarterback has thrown in a second half all season. Interestingly, Mike Evans was kept from the end zone, a rare occurrence, and he still sits at 11 touchdowns on the season, one score down from his previous record.
With proof that the team has depth and can win games without Jones, Tampa Bay will look to come out of their last two regular season games, against the Lions and a Falcons rematch, with victories.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Week 14
Despite a solid victory against a struggling Minnesota Vikings squad, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers news reports had a different, grim headline. Ronald Jones, who has been a superstar for the Buccs this season, will be forced to undergo finger surgery. Sources suggest that he is having a pin inserted into his already broken left pinky finger, an injury he sustained while blocking in the Vikings matchup. Though he returned to the game after getting hurt early (and rushed for 80 yards on 18 carries), it is unclear whether or not he will miss any time or return to play for Week 15.
Adding to their troubles, kicker Ryan Succop, as well as punter Bradley Pinion and long snapper Zach Triner have all been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Succop has not missed a single one of his last 20 field goal attempts, giving him the second-longest streak in Buccaneers history.
The Buccaneers, sitting at 8-5 heading into Week 15, take on the Atlanta Falcons next.
Buccaneers news: Bye week notes
In the Week 13 bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made some personnel changes. The team placed wide receiver Jaydon Mickens on waivers in order to make room for Kenjon Barner.
For the first nine games of the season, Mickens was responsible for most of the Buccaneers’ punt and kickoff returns. But he was then added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, where he spent three weeks. He was activated in the bye week and placed on waivers. Barner was promoted from the practice squad in Week 11, and he had one kickoff return for 24 yards and three punt returns for 19 yards against the Los Angeles Rams.
Tom Brady, though, had an unfortunate personal crisis. Police in Brookline, Massachusetts arrested 34-year old Zanini Cineus for breaking into the quarterback’s former family home at 112 Woodland Road. Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, still own the home, and Cineus set off the alarms at 5:55 am when he unlawfully entered the home. Cineus, who is currently homeless, was found laying on a couch in the basement when he was apprehended.
This is the third time Cineus faced the law on a Brady-related incident: he was arrested last year when he stole a signed Brady Patriots jersey, valued at $10,000, from Gillette Stadium’s team Hall of Fame exhibit. A week later, he was picked up again for being too close to the stadium when he was ordered not to. He was charged with trespassing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Week 12 postgame notes
For the first time in a long time, Tom Brady suffered three consecutive losses at home. Mistakes in the first half seemed to have cost the Buccaneers the game. Some of the problems can be accounted for by the fact that Chris Godwin is playing through injury, but a 7-5 record surely isn’t something the Buccaneers’ legendary quarterback is proud of.
The defense played well, sure, and Tampa Bay is headed into a much-needed bye week, where the team can hopefully rest up from injuries. They have four games left that are, by all accounts, winnable, and winning even three gives them a 10-6 record. That would certainly good enough for the playoffs. It would be the team’s best record since 2010. And Bruce Arians all but said the team would be led by the defense, even though he admits they had a bit of trouble with Patrick Mahomes.
“Hindsight’s always 20-20 – the zone coverage, they were hitting a little bit in RPOs (run-pass options), so you’ve got to pick your poison with that guy,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “I was really proud – I thought the defense adjusted really well in the second half.”
Arians had some different thoughts about the offense, though.
“They did a good job of audibling when we showed man-to-man, bump-and-run to hit a couple screens,” said Arians. “The rest were just short routes that we didn’t make the tackle. This was not getting fast enough home for a guy running an out-and-up, and to have a safety closer to help. But yeah, we have to start games faster defensively. That was a big emphasis all week, and even the night before the game in talking to them. I said the same thing offensively. We’ve got to convert those early third downs and get some scores like we did earlier in the season.”
Buccaneers news: Good deeds, injury updates
Off the field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made headlines this week for inviting exoneree Robert DuBoise to their Week 11 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. DuBoise has lived in Tampa since he was released from prison in August after he spent 37 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. Monday night marked his first ever NFL game. The Buccaneers existed for a mere 7 seasons at the time of DuBoise’s 1983 conviction, and Raymond James Stadium would not open its doors for 15 years. Now, finally free, he got to see a 6-time Super Bowl champion play for his home team, and cheer him on in the stands.
Headed into a tough Week 12 matchup against the defending champions in the Kansas City Chiefs, though, Tampa Bay has to focus on the field. They were dealt a few blows, as starting cornerback Jamel Dean was ruled out with a concussion. C.A.Q Shipley was also ruled out with a neck injury, and Tanner Hudson also will not play.
Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet have been listed as questionable, and Smith will undergo tests Sunday morning to see if his currently injured ankle is good enough to play on. Marpet has practiced fully for the past 3 weeks, but has yet to clear concussion protocol.
Of note, Jason Pierre-Paul did not participate in practice to rest a knee injury, and Ndamukong Suh missed practice on November 27 for reasons not related to injury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Week 11 postgame notes
The Week 11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams marked yet another week that Antonio Brown did not record a touchdown. In fact, he has yet to record one as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Tom Brady didn’t put up the numbers he usually does, either. There was a notable slip in his statistics this week, but he still managed to surpass Drew Brees (again) for the most passing touchdowns of all time (565), and joined Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history with 15+ seasons with 25+ touchdowns.
The bright spot, of course, was Mike Evans, who scored an incredible touchdown to open Tampa Bay’s scoring. He’s on the verge of his third season with double-digit touchdowns, and is currently tied for the fifth-highest single-season touchdown total in Buccaneer history. He also holds the franchise’s single-season record with 12 scoring catches, a total he hit in both 2014 and 2016.
Ryan Succop kicked for six points against the Rams, which allowed him to maintain top spot for points among kickers this season. He now has a total of 96, and second place Daniel Carson of the Las Vegas Raiders has 94.
Buccaneers news: Antonio Brown
Just ahead of Week 10’s Monday Night Football matchup, news broke that Antonio Brown had been involved in yet another incident. On October 15, two weeks before he signed with the Buccaneers, Brown allegedly destroyed a security camera in his gated community in Hollywood, Florida, and threw a bicycle at a security guard shack. The Miami Herald obtained and published police reports that suggested police had cause to charge him with misdemeanor criminal mischief if the homeowner’s association president decided to press charges. The president declined, the report said, because she was afraid Brown may retaliate against her employees.
Brown made a statement through his spokesperson:
Antonio brown “regrets that he lost his cool that day and he has made amends with the HOA. However, he is rightly concerned that he is routinely targeted by some people for mistreatment and undue scrutiny because he is Antonio Brown. He wants to be a good neighbor, good citizen and a good teammate.’’
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of course, also made a statement:
“We are aware of the reported incident involving Antonio Brown prior to his signing. When Antonio joined us, we were clear about what we expected and required of him. Thus far, he has met all the expectations we have in place.”
Brown, of course, has a string of incidents in his history. There is a civil lawsuit pending against him for rape and sexual assault, and he is currently serving 2 years probation for a battery charge that also saw him suspended for the first 8 games of the season. He pleaded no contest to the charges.
As per standard procedure, the NFL is reviewing the incident at Brown’s Hollywood, Florida home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Week 10 postgame notes
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled out a huge 46-23 victory against the Carolina Panthers, putting on a clinic to make up for their big Week 9 loss against the rival New Orleans Saints. Ronald Jones had a huge 98-yard rushing touchdown off of a fumble. Brady threw three touchdowns. Offense came from everywhere. There isn’t much to nitpick.
If I had to gripe, though, I would note that I still am not getting what I expected from Antonio Brown. Sure, he caught 7-of-8 targets, but they only added up to 69 yards. That’s far from a difference-making statistic from a receiver who’s touted as one of the best ever. Sure, he needs some time to shake the rust off. But if he is going to be the final piece of the puzzle that takes the team to the Super Bowl, Brown will need to shake cobwebs off. Fast.
Buccaneers news: Week 10 game report
After a brutal loss to the division-rival New Orleans Saints, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are looking to recover. They take on the Carolina Panthers, who will have to play without running back Christian McCaffrey again.
We all heard the post-game stats. It was arguably the worst game of Brady’s entire career. He hasn’t given up three interceptions since 2011, had never lost by 35 before and he handed Drew Brees the honor of being the first quarterback to beat him twice in one season. After the loss, Bruce Arians told reporters that the team needs to “learn from it.” Own it, he said. “That’s the beauty for players and coaches – it’s a 24-hour thing. You get to look at it, grade it and then you move on.”
Headed into their matchup against the Panthers, though, the Buccaneers will need to leave all of that behind. This season, they rebounded from their previous two losses (against the Saints in Week 1 and the Chicago Bears in Week 5) with three-game winning streaks. Their defense is still ranked ninth in the league and their passing is still rated seventh. They will need to rely heavily on Gronkowski, Jason Pierre-Paul and Tom Brady for a leadership mentality. The Bucs will also need a huge game from Antonio Brown who, frankly, barely made a blip in his debut against the Saints.
Related: NFL Week 10 schedule, predictions
Teddy Bridgewater is playing extremely well for the Panthers. Mike Davis proved he can handle his own, stepping in and playing solid football after McCaffrey went down in Week 2. So far this season, Davis rushed for 353 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, and has racked up 43 catches for 278 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Only the Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara has more receptions than Mike Davis. Look for the Buccaneers’ defense to pay extra attention to him this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers news: Week 10 roster report
The Buccaneers protected the same three players on their practice squad from being signed away this week. Kicker Greg Joseph, defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter and guard John Molchon are all safe from league poaching.
Joseph has been protected every week since the season began. Ledbetter has been protected five weeks in a row. Meanwhile, Molchon has been protected for the last two weeks, since he came off of injured reserve.
The practice squad protection rule is new to the league this year, implemented over the summer when the CBA had to be changed to accommodate the pandemic.